As the temperatures drop, more than 700 housing beneficiaries will spend another winter without a formal home.
Crime has resulted in work on a Gugulethu housing project grinding to a halt, with the site having been shut down since March 17 when a second shooting took place there. A previous incident – on February 28 – had shutdown the site for a week to allow for the necessary investigations to take place and for workers to receive trauma counselling.
The first phase of the Airport Infill housing project – which will provide houses for 729 beneficiaries – was initiated by Bonginkosi Madikizela during his tenure as Human Settlements MEC. Four sites which form part of the housing project are in Lusaka, New Rest, Luyolo and Tambo Village.
Beneficiaries would be drawn mainly from Kanana, Barcelona, Europe, Vukuzenzele, Zimbabwe, Lusaka and surrounding areas.
During a visit to the Luyolo Construction site on Wednesday June 1, current Human Settlements MEC Tertuis Simmers told media that criminal activities at the construction site, including shootings and attempts to extort money from the contractor, had forced work to be halted.
He said gunmen had demanded the contractor pay them R200 000 a month if they wished to continue working.
Mr Simmers said construction work would only resume when all safety and security measures were in place and the contractor deemed the working environment safe.
“We have spent millions to be here. Sadly people who are beneficiaries must wait until we find a sustainable solution.
“As a department we’ve paid the contractor for nothing. But the community should start acting too. We urge the citizens, that If anyone has knowledge of who these criminals are, kindly alert the authorities so that this criminal spree may be brought to an end and construction can continue uninterrupted and deliver the much needed houses,” he said.
Mr Simmers said, to date, the department had incurred losses of more than R8.5 million due to the site closures, and in the 11 weeks that the site had been closed, about 45 houses could have been built at the Luyolo site.
“I would like to appeal to the community of greater Gugulethu to come forward and work together with the department and through their nominated steering committee to ensure that this project remains on track,” he said.
He also called on residents “to also assist the law enforcement agencies in apprehending these culprits, who seek to derail the progress of these at the detriment of the community who have long made known their need for these houses to be completed and handed over to the deserving beneficiaries”.
Project manager Sandile Gqobhoka said it was unfortunate that the housing project was at risk of not materialising as a result of a few individuals.
Ward 40 councillor Bongani Ngcombolo also voiced his concerns about the criminal incidents and the fact that people were being denied the opportunity to move into formal homes.
“We are dealing with unknowns,” he said. “We heard (about) those incidents. It is very difficult for people to speak even if they have seen the criminal because people are dying; that is why people cannot speak. But we are worried the project is dragging and people need houses,” he said.
“This project is intended to benefit the community from the greater Gugulethu who are the elderly, backyard dwellers, people living medically certified disabilities and for that reason we cannot allow anarchy to reign.”